Station days

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Station days were days of fasting in the early Christian Church.[1] The practice of keeping stations died out during the Avignon papacy, but was revived in the twentieth century by popes Leo XIII and John XXIII.[2]

Pope Gregory the Great designated certain churches in Rome as stationes and recommended that on the more solemn festivals they should be made stations (stationes fieri) until the Hour of Sext, and at these same churches on the appointed days (statis diebus) the faithful should assist at the Daily Office. The stations have long since been abandoned and have left their trace only in the Missal.

In those days it became a tradition for the pope to visit a church in each part of the city and celebrate Mass with the congregation.

In addition to Mass, the traditional station liturgy consists of an initial procession, the Litany of Saints, and a veneration of relics.

Originally the congregation gathered at an ecclesia collecta ("collect church") nearby, where the procession was "collected" or assembled. This would then process through the streets for a short distance, to the actual station church. There was no collect church for Sunday stations.

These collect churches are no longer used, and some of the ancient ones have been destroyed, but they are nevertheless listed below (from "The Sacramentary" by Bl. Ildephonso Schuster).

On some days, the list has more than one station church. The original reason was simply that the crowds would be too large to handle if only one church was used, so an alternate was also designated. In such cases, the most important (i.e. the original traditional station) is listed first, but the indulgences can still be gained by attending the alternate.

In a few cases the original station has been destroyed (for example, when the station at S. Tryphone was transferred to San Augostino). Also in the 1930s two churches were raised to stational status by the Pope, as "alternates," by reason of their importance.

Today they are days associated with processions to particular churches in which the faithful may gain certain indulgences.

Each year since 1975 the Pontifical North American College (the American seminary in Rome) coordinated a public Stational Mass in English at all the original Station Churches (from Monday to Saturday).

In addition to the Station Churches, a long-standing Roman custom is to visit the four Major Basilicas and the three more important minor basilicas, in what is commonly called the Seven-Church Walk. This is traditionally done on the Wednesday of Holy Week.

A plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions, still attaches to a devotional visit to one of the seven basilicas. This is obtainable once a year. Formerly, it required visiting all seven churches on foot in one day.

Because of restoration works and other practical problems stations may be changed, sometimes at short notice.

Station Churches[edit]

The traditional collect and station churches of Rome are:

Ash Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

  • Collect:Sanctae Luciae in Septizonio (demolished). This church stood under the slope of the Palatine, just north of the junction between Via di San Gregorio and Via dei Cerci. It was titular, but fell into ruins and vanished at the end of the 16th century. Also known as Septisolio in the sources.
  • Station:Santi Giovanni e Paolo

Saturday

First Sunday of Lent

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Second Sunday of Lent

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Third Sunday of Lent

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

  • Collect:Sancti Mennae (demolished). This church was located "outside the Porta San Paolo". However, it cannot have been just outside (about where the Piramide metro station is) because the stational procession would have been too long. A location down the Via Ostiense, around the later chapel of Santissimo Crocifisso alla Via Ostiense stood, is likely. The church vanished by the 13th century.
  • Station:Ostian basilica

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Palm Sunday

  • Collect:Sancto Silvestro in Laterano (This was an oratory which was part of the mediaeval palasce of the Lateran. The palms were blessed here. In the late 16th century, the chapel was destroyed when the palace was rebuilt. When Palm Sunday was celebrated in St. Peter's as often in the Middle Ages, the palms were blessed in the chapel called Santa Maria in Turri in the first storey of the bell-tower of old St. Peter's, also now destroyed.)
  • Station:Lateran basilica

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Easter Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Octave of Easter

Other station Churches are:[3]

(the only ecclesiae collectae that Schuster notes existing outside of Lent are the Ember Wednesday and Friday of Advent, which are simply the same as those for the Ember Wednesday and Friday of Lent):

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Station Days". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  2. ^ Station churches website
  3. ^ Cf. the Roman Missal, 28th edition, 1920
  4. ^ Originally this was the Vatican basilica, though, because of the manger present in St. Mary Major, the stationary Church was changed in the 11th century, as B. Kranemann, Art. Weihnachten, in: Lexikon des Mittelalters, Bd. 8, 2109 f., says, quoted from the German Wikipedia article on Christmas. In actually celebrating at St. Peter's, the Pope seems to have gone back to ancient practice.
  5. ^ According to the station and also the orations, this was already celebrated in a strongly Marian way, as it now is after the liturgy reform. The title within the Missal of 1920 is naturally "Circumscision of the Lord, Octave of Christmas".
  6. ^ On St. Mark's feast. The minor rogation days are immediately preceding Ascension.